As much as we despise them, injuries are a part of every sport. Nothing will change that, and there's no use complaining when your favourite athlete goes down. At times, we may question the heart and desire of some players. Marian Gaborik and his constant groin issues must be making Minnesota Wild fans ache for a trade.
Tim Connolly has become the Sabres version of Gaborik: a talented player who hasn't seen the ice nearly as much as we would prefer. For those of you that recall, it was Connolly and Taylor Pyatt who came over from Long Island in exchange for Mike Peca.
An entire 2003/2004 season saw the absence of Connolly due to post-concussion syndromes. The worst part was that the concussion came in a preseason matchup with the Chicago Blackhawks. Not exactly the way you want to go on the injured reserve.
Sparks of magic began to surface the following year when Connolly appeared in 63 games and put up a highly respectably 55 points (16 goals, 39 assists). More of the same was shown in the playoffs by the New York native who totalled 11 points in just eight games.
Sadly, Connolly would suffer another concussion in game two of the Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Ottawa Senators. Up until the injury, Connolly was undoubtedly the Sabres' top forward in the postseason, and proved to be a premiere playmaker.
That same concussion would keep Connolly on the shelf until the final two contests of the 2006/2007 regular season. He scored a goal in his first game back, and contributed nine assists in 16 postseason games.
Bone spur problems were hampering Connolly for much of last season, and he eventually decided to have surgery in late March. The Sabres started the 2008/2009 season without him due to two cracked vertebrae he suffered. Preseason games may be Connolly's worst enemy because that's where he took a stick-butt to the back.
After missing 10 games, he was back, but not for long. Five games, and Connolly received a broken rib at the hands of Keith Tkachuk. To his credit, he managed six points before he went down.
He played through the pain for one game, then called it quits; out indefinitely was the status of Tim Connolly. Criticism from the fans followed, and trade rumours were swirling left and right from that point on.
Jan. 9 marked his anticipated return, but for how long? He failed to register a point in his first four games back. However, Connolly has caught fire since by scoring seven goals in six games along with two helpers.
Whatever happens in the near future, nobody can doubt the genius that is a healthy Tim Connolly. His stick-handling can't be matched by many, his vision opens up the ice for others, and he can fire home the puck when he has the chance.
Sounds a lot like Marc Savard, who's importance to Boston could be matched in Buffalo by Connolly. The big question is how long can the brilliant center remain 100 percent?
However long it may last, we should just enjoy it while we have it.
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